Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Review: Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

A few years ago when I was looking for a simple, straightforward book about healthy eating, I came across Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy by Walter Willett, and I’m so glad that I did. This book is filled with solid information and advice based on tons of peer-reviewed scientific research. And if you care about credentials, which you should when it comes to your health, Willett’s are top notch. He’s not your next-door neighbor who lost 30 pounds by going on a cabbage diet and then decided to write a weight loss book. He’s chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and a professor of epidemiology with an MD and a DrPH (doctor of public health).

This book gives it to you straight, talking about the things we do (and don’t) need for our body to function optimally. In the first chapter, Willett states that a healthy diet, regular exercise, and not smoking can eliminate 80 percent of heart disease and the majority of cancer cases. Think about that for a second. That’s huge. And these are factors that we can control and change. That should make us all very hopeful.

Some of the Key Points from the Book:

1.     You weigh what you weigh because of: your diet, your genes (read: your parents), your lifestyle (active vs. inactive), and your culture: (e.g. Southerners tend to like their foods fried and their tea extra sweet).

2.     Where you store your fat may change your risk for certain diseases. Fat around the chest and waist may be more problematic than fat around the hips and thighs.

3.     Be a defensive eater (e.g. slow down when you’re eating, practice putting the fork down before you feel stuffed, and against your parent’s warnings spoil your appetite before your meals – you’ll eat less)

4.     When in doubt go Mediterranean style (plenty of veggies, moderate amounts of whole grains, and little red meat)

5.     Not all fats are created equally. Some fats are good for you (like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). Some fats are bad for you (saturated fats), and some fats are downright terrible and should be avoided at all costs (trans fat).

a.     SLIGHT TANGENT. Here’s a secret about trans fat: food products that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat are allowed to list their trans fat content as 0 on nutrition labels. Sneaky bastards, right?

b.     Here’s a tip: Check the ingredients on the label and look for partially hydrogenated oils. These are the primary sources of trans fat in the diet. If you see it listed, put the item down and slowly back away. 

c.     The good news: FDA is currently considering banning partially hydrogenated oils from food. Until then though, you’ll have to do your due diligence. TANGENT OVER.

6.     Avoid the snooty, refined carbs. You want your carbs unpolished and unrefined because these types of carbs offer more fiber and nutrients, and have been linked to a lower risk for many diseases including heart disease and diabetes.

7.     Try to eat the rainbow when it comes to fruits and vegetables. More colors mean more nutrients.

For anyone wanting to know about the basics of healthy eating, I highly recommend this book. It contains so much information on everything from nut consumption to choosing a multivitamin. At the end it also has a list of several healthy recipes to try.  You can get it from Amazon or check it out from your local library. Let me know if this review was particularly helpful and I’ll try to do more of them. Enjoy your weekend!

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